Tony Blair wants to be president of Europe – WTF?


“Pour moi?”
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Outside the circle of gullible Eurocrats who might actually believe some of the crap that flows from Blair’s PR hacks, there can be only one of two decisions resulting from this equation: [1] Everyone is laughing up their sleeve at this foolish git who thinks he’s moving on to yet another position of power; or [2] this really is just a figurehead position desired by no one other than out-of-work political blow-up bed-mates.

Tony Blair’s ambition to become Europe’s first president have been set back by stiffening opposition from Sweden and Spain, the two countries chairing the EU for the next year.

Senior officials in Stockholm, which assumed the six-month rotating presidency of the EU today, said they feared a President Blair would be a divisive figure, triggering friction between small and large European countries, and added that José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, was even more strongly opposed to Blair securing the post and usurping Madrid’s running of the union next year.

The decision to appoint a new sitting European president, for a maximum of five years, is to be taken before the end of the year if Ireland votes yes in October in a referendum on the Lisbon treaty streamlining the way the EU is run and also creating the new post.

Have the Irish become suddenly demented in the past few months? Are they considering a “Yes” vote?

European governments had to decide whether the post ought to be turned into “a strong leader for Europe” or whether the president’s role should be limited to chairing EU summits and “not putting the [European] commission president in the shadow,” said the Swedish prime minister.

It was clear he preferred the latter role, a lower profile and less influential function that would probably be less attractive to Blair…

The Briton’s main assets, however, are name and brand recognition, international contacts, and the absence, so far, of any serious rival for the post.

In other words, nothing at all useful to a politician trying to achieve anything other than personal gain.

Brits and Chinese win lucrative Iraq oil contract

Iraq awarded a lucrative oil contract to BP and China National Petroleum Corp., government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said while rejecting other companies’ offers for other oil fields.

The joint BP-CNPC bid was for the al-Rumeila oil field, one of the largest in the world. The energy companies are expected to increase production at the oil field by 50 percent, to 285,000 barrels a day, for a service charge of $2 for each additional barrel produced, al-Dabbagh said in a statement.

The Iraqi government rejected bids for five other oil fields and a natural gas field because the bidders did not agree to the service charge set by the Ministry of Oil, he said.

The Ministry of Oil rejected the idea that the failure to award more than one contract made the much-anticipated auction a flop.

Iraq did not say how much the BP-CNPC bid was worth. It runs for 20 years…

He said the government was satisfied with the auction, even though only one contract was awarded, because the contract was for Iraq’s largest oil field.

Gee, do you think there may be some ill will towards the American Oil Patch Boys – in Iraq? Especially after all the wonderful aid and comfort we brought to that tormented land?

Cleantech gets more cash in Q2 – the VC Rebound begins

Cleantech investment is on the rise again, according to two reports released this week, hitting $1.2 billion in the second quarter. “Cleantech venture investment has rebounded moderately after free-falling for two consecutive quarters,” said Brian Fan, senior director of research for the Cleantech Group, in a press release…

The Cleantech Group, which tracks deals in North America, Europe, China and India, said Wednesday that cash was distributed among more companies, too: 94 compared with 82 in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Greentech Media put the number of deals in the second quarter at 85 vs. 59 in the first…

The similarities in the reports also shed light on areas of investment in cleantech trends in the second quarter. Aside from agreeing that cleantech venture capital grew, both groups listed transportation technologies, including vehicles, biofuels and batteries, as among the top investment categories in the second quarter.

The Cleantech Group said that transportation, boosted by stimulus funding and increased attention on the automotive industry, raised the most cash – with $236 million for vehicles, $206 million for biofuels and $165 million for advanced batteries. Greentech Media put transportation deals in second place at more than $202.5 million and clumped biofuels, gasification and cleaner coal together in third place, with a total of more than $195 million. The energy-storage category, including batteries and fuel cells, came in fourth with $181.5 million.

Meanwhile. the “new whine in an old bottle” crowd – you, know, the dweebs who claim to be legitimate skeptics about climate change with their fingers crossed behind their collective backsides – have been claiming that Wall Street and Venture Capital are walking away from Green investing. I think they know less about investing than they claim to know about climate science.

No one was surprised when Greentech investing diminished during the screaming meemie days of mid-recession. Only a fool and followers of same would claim that Greentech was singled out for a reduction in investment. Those of us who follow tech markets in general knew the difference – and it’s nice to see knowledgeable sites like earth2tech.com record the changes taking place.

Canada Day poll: We are NOT Americans

CanadaDay
Graphic from hhopper

A poll of citizens published on Canada’s 142nd birthday Wednesday shows patriotism runs high and 85 percent of people don’t want to be considered as Americans.

The national survey of 500 men and 500 women was conducted by the Strategic Counsel group for broadcaster CTV and the Globe and Mail newspaper in May.

The poll found 90 percent of respondents agreed that Canada is the best country in which to live, yet 64 percent agreed “Canadians are not patriotic enough.”

When asked their opinion on the statement “Canadians are fundamentally different from Americans,” 85 percent agreed.

Pollster Peter Donolo told CTV that shows a shift in national sentiment.

“The cliche is that Canadians have been insecure culturally, or unsure about their identity. But that’s certainly not representative of these numbers,” Donolo said.

As for the British monarchy, 65 percent of respondents said ties to the crown should be severed once Queen Elizabeth dies, the Globe and Mail reported.

Polls like this often are only good for a chuckle. In this instance, the chuckles are in some of the answers.

Mind, I’m not about to impugn Canada or Canadians. A disproportionate number of our readers are from the Great White North – including, I hope, the half of my North Americans relatives who live on PEI. If there was only a corner tucked away somewhere in the GWN that matched the climate of the high desert grasslands outside Santa Fe where I live – I could be tempted.

Has Cisco decided to compete with Microsoft Office?


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Cisco Systems is considering offering Web-based alternatives to Microsoft’s popular Office software as the networking giant expands on the Internet.

Cisco Senior Vice President Doug Dennerline said his company may develop a service that would allow business users to create documents they could draft and share through its WebEx meeting and collaboration service.

Internet-based alternatives to Microsoft Office cropped up about five years ago, but corporate users have yet to embrace them. If the approach does take off, it could become big business: Microsoft’s Office division rang up sales of $60 billion in the software company’s most-recent fiscal year.

Google sells Google Apps, an Internet-based alternative to Microsoft Office that includes a spreadsheet, word processor and presentation software. Design software maker Adobe Systems Inc and privately held Zoho Corp offer similar products.

Dennerline, who manages Cisco’s online collaboration products, said he is interested in getting into that area.

That is an interesting space. We are certainly thinking about that,” he said…during an online news conference. He did not elaborate.

He doesn’t have to elaborate. That’s why we have pundits and analysts.

Data.gov launches – in Beta

America’s first chief information officer Vivek Kundra launched the new spending dashboard on his website Data.gov Tuesday, which should bring transparency to government-funded information technology projects. Kundra, who previously demo’d the platform at Wired’s first-ever business conference on June 15th, announced it again Tuesday at the Personal Democracy Forum conference in Manhattan.

The purpose of the spending dashboard is accountability. Viewers will be able to track the progress of government-funded IT progress. More than that, they’ll be able to point fingers. There’s a little thumbnail picture of the CIO and contact information next to each project’s page. People who are unsatisfied with the way things are moving can write in.

At this stage, Kundra and his team have thrown the data up, and hoped that America will work out the kinks. “This is version 1.0, we’ve launched it in beta and we’re going to continue to innovate and ad more and more features.” One feature that he emphasized was a feedback loop, so that the site won’t just be about exposure, but also creating a dialogue.

I’ll have to send them some of the truly nutball neocons who comment over at the “big” blog. Rightwing geeks are almost as useless and unproductive as rightwing talk radio hosts.

British government slinks away from ID card plan


Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Alan Johnson signalled a significant reversal over the Government’s identity card policy…when he ruled out making them compulsory for British citizens.

The Home Secretary also abandoned plans for trials at two airports that would have required some staff and pilots to carry the cards and longer-term plans to make them compulsory for some railway station workers.

The announcement means that the only people for whom it will be compulsory to have an identity card will be foreign citizens. However, the Government is to press ahead with creating a national identity register that, from 2011-12, will include the details of everyone who applies for a passport…

The Government’s climbdown on one of its most controversial policies comes 24 hours after Gordon Brown announced a fresh legislative programme. The Tories have vowed that if elected they would abolish ID cards — at an estimated saving of £2 billion — while many Labour backbenchers are sympathetic to the arguments about the cost to civil liberties, as well to the Exchequer.

He added that British citizens would never be forced to have a card and admitted that the Government had allowed the perception to grow that the cards would be a “panacea” that would stop terrorism. Legislation to require some workers at Manchester and London City airports to have an identity card will be withdrawn, less than two months after it was put before Parliament. The schemes for new workers wishing to go airside at the airports will now be voluntary.

Idiots. I don’t support the position of quasi-religious libertarians that ID cards are the ultimate limitation of personal freedom; but, the history of British bureaucrats abusing their positions – and civil law – for political gain would qualify them for Congress or even the Pentagon.

Why would anyone trust them with the info required?